“Am I the only one going home for the Easter holiday?” Pansy asked of the room.
“Mum has a new husband in her sights so I’m staying here,” Blaise replied.
Neville looked up from his herbology book, “Gran wants me to stay and study so I can get the best grades possible, and you know she won’t leave her studying,” he said as he gestured to Hermione who hadn’t even glanced up from her writing. She was as usual muttering to herself, everyone had become so used to it that they no longer noticed.
“We need to study too,” chimed the Patil twins.
“No point going home to an empty house,” Theo added.
Pansy crossed the room to the blond sitting silently reading in front of the fire, “Draco dear are you going home?”
“What do you mean you can’t?” Theo asked, “Has Lucius finally lost his mind entirely?”
“In a manner of speaking.”
“He won’t let you come home?” Pansy cried, “That’s awful, well then come to my house darling.”
Draco shook his head, “No he’ll let me go home, he’d love for me to come home but I can’t do it! I can not spend another minute with that man railing against the people who saved us all, continuing to spout his Purebloods are better than everyone else bollocks!”
As his voice reached a shout everyone looked up, Hermione had a considering look on her face, “I never thought I’d hear you say that Malfoy.”
“No I’m sure you didn’t Granger, but people can change. I just hate that it took the war to open my eyes. If I’d gotten to know all of the rest of you non-Slytherins in our first few years maybe I would have changed my mind sooner.”
“Do you really think that would have worked?” Neville asked skeptically.
“I don’t know but it couldn’t have hurt. I spent my entire life until coming to Hogwarts hearing that drivel from my father and my grandparents. I was conditioned to hate anyone not in Slytherin practically from birth. Maybe if I hadn’t immediately been cloistered into a dorm with like minded individuals I might have had my eyes opened. Or maybe not, I don’t know but it seems like it only makes things worse to come in and be sorted right away. It can’t be any better for those raised thinking all Slytherins are evil and no other house ever has any Dark Wizards.”
“You’re right,” Hermione said.
Draco’s jaw dropped, “Now I’m going to steal your line, I never thought I’d hear you say that.”
She laughed, “I never thought I’d say it but it’s true. Ron came in with the thought that all those in Slytherin were evil. Harry said Hagrid told him every Dark Wizard came from there. He was wrong of course because at the time though he was innocent everyone believed Sirius Black was one of Voldemort’s minions, Peter Pettigrew actually was. And there was Snape who was a double agent the whole time, or Slughorn who stayed and helped protect the castle, and even you Malfoy when you refused to identify Harry when the Snatchers brought us to the mansion,” at this he ducked his head, “then your mother straight out lied to Voldemort, even if she was doing it just to find you she lied to Voldemort which could have cost her her life.”
No one spoke for a few minutes, each thinking about things they’d heard growing up or from their friends and wondering just how different they might have felt or been if they hadn’t been sorted into their houses to begin with.
“Merlin was a Slytherin, did anyone not in our house know that?” Blaise asked.
“Guaranteed Hermione did,” Draco intoned with half a laugh.
“Well it was in Hogwarts a History,” she defended herself to a room filled with laughter.
“I think you have that entire book memorized,” Neville said to more laughter.
“Does anyone here, besides Hermione, know about the founder of their own house, or anyone else famous from their own house much less any of the other houses?” Draco inquired looking up to see Hermione watching him.
“I know who the founder is but that’s about it,” Dean answered. This was followed by a chorus of me toos.
“Honestly I know next to nothing about any of the founders, the other houses other than rumors and legends, or really even about Hogwarts itself,” said Terry Boot, “Draco and Hermione were probably the only two able to stay awake in Binn’s class even most of us Ravenclaws were bored to tears by him and I’m sure that’s where we would have learned any of that information.”
Pansy looked a bit confused, “So you’re saying if we knew more about the founders and famous wizards from each house dark or light then we might get along better?”
Draco nodded, “I think maybe, I mean it couldn’t hurt.”
“But how would that work with the sorting?” Neville asked.
Hermione chewed on her lip a moment then spoke, “Maybe students shouldn’t be sorted first year.”
This suggestion was greeted with an uproar. While everyone else argued about the idea Draco caught Hermione’s eye and nodded. He stood up and moved to sit next to her. “Maybe they shouldn’t be sorted second year either.”
She nodded, “And everyone should learn more about the houses’ histories before they’re sorted.”
The sight of Draco and Hermione side by side talking quietly was shock enough to stop everyone else in the midst of their arguments. They moved one by one to sit around the two and began sharing ideas.
“I want to know what other houses look like, why should it be such a secret?”
“We’ve all learned to get along fairly well this year living here together. There are still arguments just like in any dorm but I argue with my brothers and sisters when we’re all at home.”
“Yeah I think that’s just part of living with several people in a relatively small space.”
“So first and second years could live together in one dorm that way the second years could help the first years out.”
“The prefects from all of the houses could take turns watching over that dorm.”
“So then they’d be sorted third year after they’ve gotten to know each other?”
“Wait what if they don’t get sorted until fourth year?”
“Then third years would continue to live with the first and second years.”
“What if they third years get to spend time living in each house. They get split into groups and live in the houses for a quarter of the year, while they live in that house they learn its history.”
“Then fourth year they’d get sorted.”
“But what about Quidditch?”
That began a whole new argument until Draco cast a silencing spell on the room, “First years almost never get chosen, Harry was the first in a hundred years, and really how many second years make the team unless they buy their way on like I did,” he blushed and paused, “Third years could play with the house they’re living in at the time, or all three younger years could play on teams just for fun and to learn more about the game. It really is different to play it than to watch it.” Then he released the spell.
“Intramurals,” Hermione said.
“It’s what they call teams at Muggle schools who play for fun not as a real competition,” Dean answered.
“But who’s in charge of the dorm, like what professor?”
“Well only four of the professors are Heads of House, maybe three of the others would be Head of Year. The Third year Head would consult with the Head of House as needed when a third year receives a punishment.”
“So what about the hourglasses?”
“What about them? We don’t have one, they don’t count us in the house hourglasses and we’re not all having a bunch of trouble behaving in class.”
“I was terrified to speak for three years because all I ever did was lose the house points,” Neville said, “that really doesn’t help a student do their best.”
“Really the House cup is bragging rights only, it’s not like we get a party of our own. The Great Hall is decorated in our House colors and banners for the final feast. Whoopee!”
“Maybe the first, second, and third years have their own hourglasses.”
“And if they get the most?”
“What if no one was trying to go for the most? What if everyone was each trying to earn a party? A trip to Hogsmeade? The right to skive off for a day?”
“And maybe you could earn rewards more than once a year?”
“Yeah so it’s not a competition between houses but a challenge for your own house to create more unity even within each house.”
“But what about their uniforms?”
“What about them?”
“They won’t have house colors to wear.”
“So new ties and scarves would need to be made that have all the colors, or they’re just black with the Hogwarts crest on them.”
“Won’t students still group themselves based on their parents houses?”
“They might, but if all the students are in one dorm the professors will have to separate them for classes anyway. They could split those people up into different groups. Make sure to partner them up with different people each class. Most of the professors have been here long enough to have taught our parents or they were in class with our parents. They should be able to spot possible groups that would be a problem.”
“That might be better for the professors too because those of us that might need extra help could be in one group, and those that are ridiculously smart, yes Draco and Hermione I’m looking at you, could be in a group by themselves and maybe begin to work ahead. They wouldn’t be stuck waiting for those of us that are slower to pick up on things.”
“But wait wouldn’t that make sorting harder? Like wouldn’t people argue with the hat about where they want to be placed?”
“I argued with the hat,” said Neville, “and I lost.”
“What do you mean you argued with the hat?”
“I didn’t know you could do that!”
“Why would you argue with the hat?”
“I would never have even thought about talking to the hat much less arguing with it.”
Neville sighed, “The hat wanted to put me in Gryffindor right away but I was sure I didn’t belong there so I asked it to put me in Hufflepuff. We went back and forth for a while and I finally gave in.”
“The hat wanted to put Harry in Slytherin,” Hermione said.
“Harry Potter in Slytherin?”
“He said no to Slytherin?”
“Probably my fault,” Draco muttered.
“Not entirely,” Hermione said, “You have to remember he’d already been told about Slytherin by Hagrid and Ron, more of that Gryffindor prejudice against the snakes. Anyway Harry argued with the hat until it put him in Gryffindor.”
“So then maybe everyone could have a discussion with the hat about where they belonged?”
“Sure why not.”
“So what about the seating in the Great Hall?”
“The third years would sit with whatever house they’re living in but what about the first and second years?”
“They could have a table of their own.”
“But where would it be?”
“Could it go across the back of the room like the professors’ table goes across the front?” or along the front of the other tables between them and the head table?”
“Can the room be expanded so they could put it in line with the house tables?”
“That might work best, the first/second year table could be put in the middle of the others so they don’t feel left out or stared at.”
“Hermione what are you doing?” Parvati asked.
Hermione was bent over a parchment feverishly writing, “Just trying to take down all the ideas so we’re prepared to take them to McGonagall.”
“Whoa we’re taking this to the Headmistress?”
“She’ll never go for it. Even if she would won’t she get arguments from the parents and other teachers?”
“What about all the other Heads portraits? You know they’ll have something to say about this.”
“I thought this was all just talk. Are we serious about this?”
“Why not?” asked Draco, “How many times did Dumbledore talk about all of us coming together, did we ever listen? I know I didn’t. Why would I? I didn’t know any of you from the other houses and I knew you hated me, was absolutely certain of it whether you really did or not. This would create that unity he wanted, the unity so many people want in the wizarding world as a whole, and yet you would still end up in a house with house loyalty.”
“Dumbledore will absolutely support this, well his portrait will. When Harry watched Snape’s memories in the Pensieve he saw one in which Dumbledore told Snape he thought sometimes we sort too early. Besides if we all go in and present a united front, a group of battle hardened adults who want the best for our school, the best for our future children.” Hermione was almost in lecture mode.
“Children? You’re thinking about children already?”
“Hey she’s dating the sixth of seven kids I think that would make any girl think about children, or at least how many she might end up with.”
Hermione’s cheeks flamed.
“I’ll write the letter to McGonagall asking her to see us,” volunteered Draco.
“Perfect,” replied Hermione, “I think if you take the lead on this it will mean even more. They just might take us more seriously.”
Draco reached for his quill and a blank piece of parchment.
The eighth year students respectfully request a meeting with you about our school. We have been discussing some concerns we have as well as a possible solution. We would like to present this suggestion to you and the former Heads of Hogwarts.
Draco Malfoy on behalf of the Hogwarts eighth year students.
“Ok I’m off to the owlery.”
Dear Draco and Eighth Year students,
I look forward to hearing from you. Please come to my office after dinner hour this evening at seven o’clock.
Headmistress M. McGonagall
The eighth year students stood outside the Headmistresses door, waiting until the appointed hour, they then began up the staircase with Draco and Hermione in the lead. Draco stopped at the top of the stairs.
McGonagall looked up from her desk, “Come in Mr. Malfoy and bring everyone else with you.” She gestured with her wand and summoned several chairs for the students to sit in. Once everyone was seated she spoke again, “Now what concern is it that brings you all here this evening?”
Draco and Hermione exchanged a glance, she gestured for him to speak first, “Headmistress there has been a lack of school unity among the houses for years. It seems be worse this year than ever, while the members of Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Gryffindor seem to get along fairly well, the members of Slytherin don’t seem to get on well with anyone outside their house. We feel old and new prejudices are to blame for this and we think we have come upon a way to change this dynamic.”
At this point he turned to Hermione who outlined the plan agreed upon in the eighth year common room the previous evening. McGonagall listened and nodded several times. She didn’t speak immediately when Hermione finished, rather sitting back in her chair for a moment.
“I must say how proud of you all I am. Not only have you overcome your differences this year to get along well in your dormitory you have come up with this plan. It is most definitely worth consideration.”
“Hear hear,” chimed Dumbledore’s portrait, “Excellent thinking ladies and gentlemen. You have done our school and your individual houses proud.”
There were cheers from some portraits, complaints from others, but it was to Snape that Draco directed his attention now, “Sir?” he asked.
Snape nodded, “Yes I do believe this is a plan with merit.”
Draco sighed quietly and smiled only to have it fall from his face when the voice of Phineas Nigellus Black rang out over all others, “Why in the world should be change a house system that has worked so well since its inception? We would be going against the wishes of our founders themselves.”
Draco stood and turned to face the dissenter, “Headmaster...Uncle Phineas, even though things run the same way for hundreds of years does not mean that they run as well as they were intended or could run. We don’t want to do away with houses all together, we simply want everyone to be better educated on our founders and their beliefs as well as given the chance to create community. I personally believe this is sorely needed. If I had had an opportunity like this I might have come to the realization that not everything my father taught me was the best way to live my life, not everything he said was truth written in stone, I might have made better choices along the way. I might have sought a different path when confronted by the Dark, by Voldemort. Professor Dumbledore offered me a choice and I didn’t take it, maybe I might have. I don’t want others to go blindly through life believing stereotypes and prejudices they were raised with simply because they don’t have a war to open their eyes as I did. I shudder to think what I might continue to be like, what I might have continued to feel and believe if I hadn’t seen what I did and been forced to participate in it. Yes this would be a major change in how things run here, and yes there will probably be backlash in the wizarding world of the UK however I believe this is the best way to create a sense of unity and community not only here at Hogwarts but in the wizarding world in general.”
Phineas blinked in agitation at being spoken to so familiarly by a student, even if he was a descendant of the Black line, then he sighed in resignation, “Yes I can see that this might be a worthwhile idea.”
Cheers and laughs rang out from the walls and the students as Draco stood smiling. He was only vaguely aware of his fellow classmates hugging and assuring the headmistress that they would be with her when she proposed the change to the other professors, the board, and the students. Finally she dismissed them. They trailed off down the stairs and down the hallways.
Draco wandered by himself taking in the sights of this building that was so familiar that had become his home more than any other in the past years stopping only when he heard a voice call out his name. He turned to find Hermione rushing up to him.
“You were wonderful,” she said, “Congratulations.” He stood in shock as she hugged him, blushed and rushed away.